By Delaina Spence
There I was, standing barefoot in a shallow stream in the village of Pasinkap. I was on my internship with Pioneer Bible Translators, and my team leader Lindy Pate and I were doing laundry in the stream. We waded into the cool flowing water, filled up a large plastic basin, and added some powdered laundry detergent. After scrubbing each garment by hand, we would rinse it in the river, squeeze out the extra water, and put it in a large bilum (net bag) that was hanging from a nearby tree branch. Later we would have to carry all the clothes back to the house and hang them on the line to dry. We could see that it was going to take most of the morning to wash all of the clothes, so we wanted something to do while we worked. Lindy walked along the path by the airstrip back to the house and brought the Proclaimer to where I was at the river. Proclaimers are audio players with dramatized Scripture recordings in various languages.
I suggested that we listen to the Tok Pisin recording of 1 Peter since I had recently memorized it and would be able to pick out some words even with my limited knowledge of Tok Pisin at the time. Lindy and I continued scrubbing dirty clothes, but now we were hearing, “Mi Pita, mi aposel bilong Jisas Krais. Mi raitim dispela pas long yupela ol manmeri bilong God, yupela ol lain i stap nabaut olsem tripman long provins Pontus, Galesia, Kapadosia, Asia, na Bitinia….”
Now Daniel, one of the national translators, lived in the house right across the stream. His wife heard the sound coming from the Proclaimer and sat down on the bank to listen with us. After all five chapters were finished, she thanked us for letting her listen in, and she told us, “Dispela tok em i sutim bel bilong mi.” Literally, “These words are piercing my stomach,” which is the Tok Pisin expression for, “It’s piercing my heart.”
My story doesn’t end there by the stream. At 7:00 the next morning I was working on getting breakfast started for my team. I had just hauled two buckets of water up the stairs from the rain tank outside to use for cooking and washing dishes when I heard a cough coming from the front yard. I looked out and saw Daniel standing there waiting to talk to us. We were amazed by his request. He asked us to bring the Proclaimer and follow him across the river to a cluster of houses where about twenty people were waiting. They wanted to hear I Peter before they went to work in their gardens for the day. Apparently the woman had told her friends and relatives that they needed to hear what she had heard the day before. These people sat still and listened to all of 1 Peter and half of 1 Corinthians. That’s twelve chapters of Scripture! God was speaking to them through His Word, and again many people said, “This talk is piercing our stomachs!”
Several times over the next week groups of people from the village and even surrounding villages met outside our house to listen to the Bible. The last day we were there, a group of people sat for three solid hours listening to book after book of the New Testament, beginning with 1 Peter. They only left after three hours because the Proclaimer shut itself off from lack of solar power. Even in a second language like Tok Pisin, God’s Word is powerful, but I can’t wait to see the day when every language group on earth is able to use Scripture in their own language to grow and mature the Body of Christ, and it is an incredible privilege for me to be part of this ministry.
The process of translation takes years and years of tedious work, but one day the people we work with will have their own Bible in written form and even be able to use those translated Scriptures to produce audio recordings like the Proclaimer and share audio files on their cell phones. They will be able to go to church and hear God speaking to them clearly, in their own heart language. They will be able to say like the woman by the stream, “Dispela tok em i sutim bel bilong mi. These words are piercing my heart.”
 Proclaimers are produced by Faith Comes by Hearing
Delaina serves as a Bible translator.